The very nature of the Viet Nam conflict lent itself to psychological operations. The hide-and-seek nature of guerilla warfare mandates the need for additional military intelligence -- often a byproduct of pyschological warfare.

'the bombs that fell from nowhere'

Even some of our conventional weapons became great psychological warfare weapons. Consider, for example, the B-52 bomber strikes. While many (most?) of these strikes were aimed at targets in North Viet Nam, B-52 strikes also occurred in South Viet Nam. B-52s were used in an effort to break the seige at Khe Sanh.


At one pont in the Vietnam war, the official position of the United States government was that B-52 strikes were not carried out against targets in South Viet Nam. As the picture (left) suggests, they might have lied.

Photo from        /k/Planes
This website has much information about aircraft used in the Vietnam War.

The strikes themselves became a psychological tool. In order to understand how this military action could itself become a psychological weapon, you must understand the nature and results of a B-52 strike. To put a B-52 strike in perspective the bomb used to destroy the nine-story federal building in Oklahoma City weighed 4800 pounds. Each bomb of a B-52 strike weighed 2000 pounds -- and the aircraft carried 20 bombs! This bomb load was delivered into a relatively small area. In that small area during a B-52 strike, it was literally 'hell on earth'. Most of our camps were called upon to conduct patrols into areas hit by B-52 strikes. Their mission was to assess the results and effectiveness of the strike. If there were people in the area during the strike, it was not unusual for the patrol to find them wandering around aimlessly three days later... the shock waves from the blasts had effectively 'homogenized' their brains.

In many instances VC and suspected VC were asked during interrogation what they feared the most. Invariably, their answer was 'the bombs that fall from nowhere'. When bombing from altitudes in excess of 35,000 feet, you could neither see nor hear the bombers. The bombs literally rained down from nowhere! During the Viet Nam war B-52 strikes were code-named 'Arc Light'.

The camps would get many messages which started "Arc Light your area...", followed by a set of map coordinates. It was the camp's responsibility to plot these coordinates to ensure that no camp patrols or personnel would be in that area at the time of the attack.


Picture of TD patio

Men enjoying a little conversation on the patio. On many afternoons we gathered on the patio to have a beer or to talk. At approximately 4PM we could see the 'con trails' from the B-52s as they approached the airspace over the camp. The B-52s would come in from several different angles and converge to form a flying formation. My guess is that they were going to or returning from 'arc light' missions.

In one case at Thuong Duc we plotted the coordinates and confirmed that no SF personnel would be in the strike area. We did note that the strike zone was a hill/mountain visible from the camp's 'patio'. Shortly before the designated 4PM strike time Dick Minter, myself, and several others gathered on the patio to watch the mountain.

4PM came and went... nothing. By 4:15PM we were all ready for another warm beer. At 4:30PM we had given up. The mission was apparently scrubbed. We were preparing to exit the patio when the mountain disappeared. We could see the area where the mountain should have been. It was enveloped in dust and smoke. The explosions threw debris high into the air. After a brief delay a half-muffled sound could be heard... something like the rolling thunder you might hear during a summer thunderstorm. It was an incredible sight. We heard no aircraft; we could see no aircraft. The bombs simply fell from nowhere.